The 10 Best Kites
This wiki has been updated 36 times since it was first published in April of 2015. Whether you're young or old, flying a kite can be a great way to get some fresh air and exercise while also putting on an aerial show for friends and passersby. We've included some models that are particularly easy to get in the air and control, which are perfect for beginners, as well as large and exciting versions that will appeal to adventurous and experienced pilots. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
February 25, 2021:
We removed a number of items due to availability issues and replaced them with a range of designs in a variety of shapes and sizes.
While some people fly kites for sport or just to have a good time, many enjoy the idea of putting on an aerial display, either for themselves, their friends, or anyone who happens to be passing by. In areas where kite flying is a popular activity, it can also be nice to have a unique model that stands out among the others.
New to the list, the WindNSun Space Shuttle is a 3-D kite with a wingspan of 50 inches. Its tail spins in the wind and mimics the jet of flame that comes out of a rocket's engine. The Tresbro Sailing Ship is a smaller choice, but a fitting one if you like to fly kites by the beach. Just like the sails of a real ship, its various pieces are designed to catch the wind. The Hengda Snake also boasts an eye-catching design with a vibrant green body, an angry-looking face, and a long tail that ripples in the wind.
On the other hand, if you're looking for a simpler design, you can always fall back on the classic diamond shape. The In The Breeze Rainbow is an affordable option that's available in several colorways. With the Mint's Colorful Life DIY, your little ones can decorate their kites themselves. It's available in a variety of line art designs that are meant to be filled in with markers or paints like a coloring book page. Or you can get even more creative by getting a blank white version and making art from scratch.
While we focused mainly on one-line models in this update, as they appeal to a wider range of users, we also added the Prism Synapse, a dual-line foil stunt kite that should appeal to more serious kite enthusiasts. It's available in three sizes, and each size features a different colorway.
When flying a kite, always pay attention to the wind speed in the area, as some kites are only safe to fly in certain ranges. Always stay away from overhead power lines and if you find that your kite has flown into a line, do not try to retrieve it yourself (instead, contact the utility company). You should also make sure that you don't fly in so much wind that you can't control your kite, especially while you're still learning the basics.
April 03, 2019:
Kites can be tons of fun, but it is important to match them to the pilot's skill level, especially if it is for a child. The best kinds to learn on are stable, aerodynamic, single-line models, such as the Best Delta and aGreatLife Rainbow. Once your child has a gotten the hang of the more aerodynamic kites, they can move on to some of the more unusually-shaped options, like the Hengda Mollusc Octopus, Brainstorm Dragon WindnSun 3-D, Prism Flip Rotor, and In the Breeze Tie Dye, as these will take a little more effort to get them up into the air. Experienced fliers, or adults who simply want to move right into the big leagues, can choose one of the dual-line, stunt models on our list, which are the Prism E3, Prism Quantum, and Prism Jazz. The Into the Wind Highlighter Riviera is only suitable for adults and older kids because its large wingspan means it can create to much pulling force for a small child.
Prism Quantum 2.0 This two-line model is a versatile sport kite with an upgraded shape that gives it more stability, even in lighter winds. This is a good choice for enthusiasts who want to hone their kite-flying skills. prismkites.com
What Separates a Good Kite From a Great One?
On a final note, you want to choose a kite that looks cool whenever it is flying in the sky.
Ideally, you want a kite to be able to do two things: fly well and absorb a crash. Flying well is a matter of aerodynamics, sleek design, and a manufacturer's choice of material. It's generally a good sign if a kite happens to be shaped like a hang glider, or a bird. This means the kite has a wingspan, which will help it soar and dive with the wind.
You want a kite's width to measure anywhere between three to nine feet. Keep in mind that the greater the wingspan (and the weight), the more difficult a kite in the wind will be to control. This is especially important if you're buying the kite for a child. Handling a kite in heavy wind could prove too much for a child's grasp, or, worse yet, the twine could leave a child with a really nasty burn.
Most store-bought kites are made of nylon or plastic, though there are also less expensive models that are made out of a polyethylene blend. A kite's twine is usually made out of nylon, which is strong, but lightweight. A kite's handle, or spool, is usually made out of plastic, and it is designed to be held on both ends, thereby maximizing control. You'll probably want to wear a pair of gloves whenever operating a kite. Even fingerless gloves will allow you to avoid getting blisters between your index finger and your thumb.
All kites are going to slam into the ground every now and again. That being the case, you want a kite to have a graphite, fiberglass, or carbon frame. Take note of the kite's product description to see if it includes any phrases like "shock absorption," or "durable frame," as well.
On a final note, you want to choose a kite that looks cool whenever it is flying in the sky. This is a matter of preference, of course. As a general rule, just make sure to prioritize aerodynamics and substance over style.
Several Little-Known (Yet Valuable) Uses For a Kite
Perhaps the most famous story of someone utilizing a kite in an innovative way involves Ben Franklin attaching a key to a kite during a thunderstorm to prove that metal, as a conductor, could elicit lightning from a cloud. While experiments like that involve an unwarranted amount of risk, there are several unique - and safe - ways to use a kite that may increase its worth.
The Chinese Military has used kites as a way of conveying messages in code.
In a crowded space you can hoist a kite into the sky, thereby giving others an easy signpost to identify where you are. You can use a kite like a banner by painting a message on a white cloth, then affixing the cloth to a kite, so you can display your message up high. You can use a kite to monitor the wind's direction on a beach or in a boat. You can use a kite to measure distances by marking off the twine at certain points.
The U.S. Military has previously used kites as a way of simulating moving targets during artillery practice. The Chinese Military has used kites as a way of conveying messages in code. Kites even used to be a pillar in the accumulation of meteorology measurements, such as barometric pressure. Mountain climbers have been known to use kites as a means of transporting lines of rope, particularly across a gorge.
Competitive kite flyers may go head-to-head to see if one kite can chase down - or even take down - another. This is a bit aggressive for kite-flying, quite honestly, and it almost always ends with one or both kites getting tangled, or torn, to the ground.
A Brief History of The Kite
The first kites were invented by Chinese philosophers during the 6th century, B.C.E. These kites were made of silk with lightweight bamboo providing the basic framework. The Chinese found kite-flying to be relaxing, a way of settling into the meditative rhythms of the breeze.
Over the next 1,000 years, the only major innovation regarding the craftsmanship of kites involved a partial transition from using silk, which was delicate and prone to tearing, to using paper and wood, both of which could absorb getting dragged to the ground by the wind.
Benjamin Franklin conducted his famous kite-and-key experiment during the 1750s.
During the Ming Dynasty (14th-17th century), the Chinese went from using kites for recreation to using them for long-distance communication, meteorology, aerial transport, and measuring heights. Several other eastern cultures - including the Polynesians - began to adopt kites as a form of worship. A beautiful kite would be considered the equivalent of a prayer or a tribute to the gods.
Americans used kites for a variety of experiments throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Benjamin Franklin conducted his famous kite-and-key experiment during the 1750s. The Wright Brothers used kites to test out certain theories en route to the Kitty Hawk Flyer's virgin flight.
Kites reached their zenith during the early 20th century, at which point they were being used for recreation, weather forecasting, hoisting objects, aerial photography, covert communication, and more. Today, kites have been resigned to their initial forté. There are kite-flying competitions, and conventions, and the Chinese still like to use kites for decoration during their parades. But by and large, kite-flying is considered to be a form of relaxation, a way of communing almost passively with the breeze.